Tag Archives: hiking apparel reviews

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket

April 24, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket.

Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket.

Ultralight Jacket
Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid Jacket
$165, 5.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
outdoorresearch.com

On a 7.5-mile trail run in Idaho’s Boise Foothills near my home, on an April morning with temps in the 50s and a strong, cool wind blowing, I stopped after climbing uphill for close to an hour. Sweating hard in that wind, wearing a lightweight, long-sleeve top that was now wet, I felt almost instantly chilled. Ahead of me were the last few, mostly downhill miles. So I pulled on this ultralight shell. While I was still perspiring for the rest of my run, the jacket delivered enough wind protection that I stayed warm. And when I finished, the inside of the jacket was only slightly damp. Continue reading →

Gear Review: The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket

January 6, 2014  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket

The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket

Fleece Jacket
The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket
$170, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
thenorthface.com

Given all the modern choices in outdoor apparel for the backcountry, is the classic fleece jacket obsolete? Not hardly. An insulating layer that’s highly breathable remains indispensable when you’re active in cold temperatures; I always have some kind of fleece layer when out backcountry skiing, cross-country ski touring, hiking, or snowshoeing in winter or any time of year in temps in the 30s or colder. The good news is that advancements in fabrics have transformed your father’s fleece into a more versatile outer or middle layer—like The North Face Radium Hi-Loft Jacket. Wearing it quite a lot while cross-country skiing on a four-day, December yurt trip in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, and as a middle layer while resort skiing as well as around town, I found it impressively warm, comfortable, and functional. Continue reading →

Gift Guide: Top 25 Picks in Outdoor Gear & Apparel

November 21, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Gregory Contour 70

Gregory Contour 70

By Michael Lanza

Looking for a gift idea for a hiker, backpacker, climber, skier… or maybe something special to suggest to someone shopping for you? I test a lot of adult and children’s outdoor gear and apparel every year for Backpacker Magazine and to review in this blog, and friends and readers ask me regularly for advice on buying gear.

So here’s my annual list of my top 25 favorite new pieces of outdoor gear and apparel—with links to my original reviews of these packs, boots, tents, jackets, and other gear—plus a new backcountry food my entire family loves, and a terrific book for traveling families. If you’re dreaming of big adventures in 2014, get busy prepping your gear for it.

Continue reading →

Gear Review: Black Diamond Coefficient Jacket

October 21, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Black Diamond Coefficient Jacket

Black Diamond Coefficient Jacket

Fleece Jacket
Black Diamond Coefficient Jacket
$139, 11 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
blackdiamondequipment.com

Keeping your body from overheating or getting cold while active is a challenge in shoulder seasons, or anytime you encounter fast-changing weather and temperatures from the 20s to the 50s Fahrenheit. The key is clothing that provides just enough warmth without making you perspire too much, and that moves moisture out quickly when sweating becomes unavoidable. On numerous spring and fall days of hiking and rock climbing in Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park, and dayhiking in July in Mount Rainier National Park, the Coefficient Jacket hit that ideal balance that kept me from cycling between hot and chilled. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Marmot Isotherm Hoody Puffy Jacket

October 15, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Marmot Isotherm Hoody

Marmot Isotherm Hoody

Breathable, Insulated Jacket
Marmot Isotherm Hoody
$225, 13 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
marmot.com

A puffy jacket that’s breathable? That holy grail of backcountry apparel seemed elusive until Polartec Alpha synthetic insulation entered the scene. Looking for a fairly lightweight, Alpha-filled jacket that would be versatile for year-round use—and that has a hood—I used Marmot’s Isotherm Hoody on spring and summer hiking trips. Although just 13 oz., this full-zip jacket kept me warm on mornings ranging from calm and 15° F. (with a warm top on underneath it) in southern Utah in late March, to the 40s with steady winds of 40 to 50 mph in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains in July. Even more impressively, on a frosty morning in the teens and 20s in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, I could wear it hiking at a brisk pace without overheating. Continue reading →

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